Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Haftorah Beam - Kedoshim

Last year, this was the second half of a double parsha.  This year, it stands on its own.

The Torah portion includes several injunctions relating to inclusion and empathy for those with special needs;  the haftorah talks about our place among the nations of the world:

7 To Me, O Israelites, you are
Just like the Ethiopians
— declares the Lord —
True, I brought Israel up
From the land of Egypt,
But also the Philistines from Caphtor
And the Arameans from Kir.
Yes, we are "Chosen" for our peculiar mission, but we are reminded here that other nations are chosen, as well, each for their own purpose.  We are all children of G*d; each an individual, and each uniquely loved.

In the context of today's observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we learn that we must see all oppressed nations through the lens of our own history.  In G*d's eyes, we are all siblings, and must look after those who are suffering regardless of their origins.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Not our children?

Tonight begins Holocaust Memorial Day.
Last Holocaust Memorial Day I posted this.

But this analogy is more personal than I let on.  My maternal grandparents narrowly escaped Poland with their infant daughter (my mom) before the Nazi invasion.  They each came from large families. Between them there were 18 siblings.

18 siblings in 2 families.

When the war was over, only 4 had survived.  My mother's parents, her aunt who escaped with them with her husband and teen-aged daughter, and an uncle who married into a Catholic family.

4 out of 18.

How many cousins would I have had, without this tragedy?  How many 2nd cousins for my children? 3rd cousins?

The Holocaust Memorial in Israel, Yad VaShem, maintains a list of "Righteous Gentiles", non-Jews who, often at great personal risk, helped Jews during the Holocaust and other times of persecution. In many instances, these individuals were personally responsible for the saving of countless lives.  Were the children they saved "their children"?  Were the people they stuck their necks out for "their problem"?

Adoption is hard.  Special needs adoption is even harder.  There are many risks involved.  Furthermore, many people find these children repulsive, and perhaps not worth saving, thus making the job even harder.  Of course, many people felt that way about Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals.  Many people still do.  Are any of these hardships, risks, obstacles and prejudices anywhere close to what thousands of Righteous Gentiles had taken on to save our people? Are children who are warehoused in substandard institutions any less deserving?  Would my missing cousins have been worth it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Haftorah Beam - Achrei Mot / Shabbat Hagadol

Last year, this was the first part of a double parsha, and we were reading the second half, so we missed the Torah reading.  This year, it was the Shabbat before Pesach (Passover) so we have a special Haftorah reading, so we miss the usual Haftorah reading.  Oh well.

Reading this special Haftorah (Shabbat Hagadol) actually made me a bit sentimental! Last year, my daughter chanted this haftorah at her Bat Mitzvah, although her Torah reading was different.  The reading anticipates the redemption of the Exodus which is commemorated in the Passover Hagadah by challenging us to cling on to our faith and ethics even when it seems that these don't really pay off.  We see others literally getting away with murder, we see our convictions challenged every day.  Why do it all?  The prophet assures us that not only will the redemption come one day that will make it all worth while, but that doing the right thing is in fact its own reward.
17 And on the day that I am preparing, said the Lord of Hosts, they shall be My treasured possession; I will be tender toward them as a man is tender toward a son who ministers to him. 18 And you shall come to see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between him who has served the Lord and him who has not served Him....23 Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. 24 He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction.

Haftorah Beam - Metzora

I really wanted to write this in a timely fashion, but.... life is what happens when you're making other plans.

Last year this was part of a double parsha, but this year it stands alone.  The haftorah recounts a story about a group of lepers who seek sustenance during a drought in a neighboring Aramean town.  To their surprise, the town is deserted.  At first, they loot just for themselves, but then they realize that this could bring relief to their whole community.  Leaving aside the issue of "international politics" here, this shows the tension between seeing those with disabilities as outcasts, vs. seeing them as "special blessings".

Yeah, I wanted to say more, but..... life.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Passover!

I am so behind, I have 2 Haftorah Beam posts to make up, and a long post about adolescence in the works. Can I blame spring cleaning for at least part of my slacking?  But we had a lovely Passover Seder last night, my 2 youngest singing Mah Nishtanah, my 5-year-old very seriously participating in the reading, and the guests leaving full and (apparently) happy.

Edited to add: Woo hoo! This is my 400th published post!!!

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